Falling Out of Time

David Grossman, trans. from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen. Knopf, $24.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-385-35013-6
Although it’s identified as a novel, this searing narrative from Israeli writer Grossman is not cast in traditional form. A mixture of free-verse, prose, and stage directions, it’s a searching cri de coeur—an impassioned exploration of existential questions about life and death. In Grossman’s previous novel, To the End of the Land, a son is lost in battle; while Grossman was writing that book, his own son was killed in Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon. Here, a bereaved father, who, after five years, still cannot come to terms with his son’s death, leaves his wife and home to try to find the “there,” where the boy’s soul resides. As he relentlessly walks through and around his village, the Walking Man is joined by others who have lost their children. His voice—intense, anguished, almost deranged by grief—is mediated by the Town Chronicler, who also introduces the voices of the other seekers—the net mender, the midwife, the duke, the cobbler, the math teacher, the centaur—who join the Walking Man. In hoping to be granted even a moment of communication with the dead, the Walking Man laments “the vast expanse his death/ created in me,” and his need to embrace “this/ lonely/ dead/ child.” This piercingly sad elegy culminates in a moment of peace in which the community of the bereaved contemplates the cycle of life and death. The precision and sensory depth of Grossman’s language renders this unconventional work an unforgettable and magnificent document of suffering. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/27/2014
Release date: 03/25/2014
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-345-80585-0
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-0-7710-3640-8
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